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  • feedwordpress 22:33:41 on 2019/11/30 Permalink
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    Powering Your House 


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    I enjoyed this fun video from xkcd’s Randall Munroe on different ways you could power your home, illustrated. Check out his book How To for more in the same vein.

     
  • feedwordpress 03:53:27 on 2019/11/27 Permalink
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    Distributed Podcast: Clark Valberg, Lydia X. Z. Brown, Stephen Wolfram, and the Grand Meetup 


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    If y’all haven’t caught up recently with my podcast Distributed, this is a perfect moment to do so—the past several weeks have been full of insights from folks like InVision CEO Clark Valberg, attorney and advocate Lydia X. Z. Brown, Stephen Wolfram, and some of my own Automattic colleagues in-person at our Grand Meetup.

    You can subscribe at Apple Podcasts, Google, Overcast, Spotify, or wherever you like to listen. 

    The Importance of IRL in a World of Screens (Automattic Grand Meetup)

    “When you work in a distributed company, every time that you interact with your colleagues via text… you are taking out of your social bank account with them. So when you get people together, that’s when you have the opportunity to see each other face-to-face, and remind everybody that you’re all human beings. And fill that social capital back up because it’s so hard to communicate via text.”

    Building the Tools That Bring the Screen to Life (Clark Valberg, InVision) 

    “We needed it as a talent hack, as a talent arbitrage. Hire the best people wherever they happen to be, figure everything out later, hire them quickly, get them in the ship as early as possible and start seeing results. How can I just hire the best people no matter where they are?”

    Making Work Accessible, Wherever It Happens (Lydia X. Z. Brown)

    “I have believed from a very young age that every single one of us has a moral obligation to use whatever resources we have — time, money, knowledge, skills, emotional energy, access to physical resources — however that might be defined — that we each have a moral obligation to use those resources in service of justice, and fighting against injustice and oppression and violence in all of its forms, structural and individual, subtle and overt.”

    Inside Toptal’s Distributed Screening Process (Taso Du Val) 

    “I was going into an office but not seeing anyone or interacting with anyone except myself. So it almost was this zombie-like walk to the office every morning where I’m going to the office because I go to work, but I don’t see anyone who I work with. [laughs] And so I actually started waking up and just working on my computer at home. And then I said to myself, ‘Well, why am I even working from home?'”

    The Machine That Turns Ideas Into Real Things (Stephen Wolfram) 

    “You can do things that are very commercial, but a little bit intellectually boring. And it tends to be the case that you’re doing a lot of rinse-and-repeat stuff if you want to grow purely commercially, so to speak. Or, you can do things that are wonderful intellectually, but the world doesn’t happen to value them and you can’t make commercial sense that way. And I’ve tried to navigate something in between those two where it’s where I’m really intellectually interested and where it’s commercially successful enough to sustain the process for a long time.”

    Welcome to the Chaos (Sonal Gupta, Automattic)

    “I like to trust people and give them autonomy. But I keep in touch with them very regularly and I think it becomes clear pretty quickly if somebody is not doing work. We look at performance, and we look at communication at a distributed company. Communication is oxygen.” 

    Observe, Don’t Surveil: Managing Distributed Teams with Respect (Scott Berkun)

    “To work at a remote company demanded great communication skills, and everyone had them. It was one of the great initial delights. Every corporation has the same platitudes for the importance of clear communication, yet utterly fails to practice it. There was little jargon at Automattic. No ‘deprioritized action items’ or ‘catalyzing of crossfunctional objectives.’ People wrote plainly, without pretense and with great charm.” 

    How to Build and Strengthen Distributed Engineering Teams (Cate Huston, Automattic)

    “A senior engineer makes the whole team better, but we don’t want to be prescriptive about how people made the team better. That was up to them. There were options, but that was the expectation for everyone on the team. You come in, you’re an experienced engineer, we expect you to be making the whole team better in some way, and what that looks like is up to you.” 

    How to Stay Connected in a Distributed World (Leo Widrich) 

    “I started to feel like I was hitting a wall. This thing that I always dreamt of, to have a profitable company, to be financially secure, to have a team… I felt that having that success, having some of that financial security — it left me unfulfilled in a lot of other areas. — in the sense of deep lasting connection and also a lack of emotional resilience to deal with the ups and downs that startup life comes with.”

    Helping Creativity Happen from a Distance (John Maeda) 

    “My point is blogging is good for you. It’s mental health, it’s expression, it’s sharing your process with the world. And when you relate to the world, your standard of quality floats to that value of the world. It’s a market economy of ideas and by putting ourselves out there, you become relevant.”

    Engineering with Empathy (Han Yuan, Upwork) 

    “We really want to encourage empathy in general. And so a key part of empathy is being able to try to see the other person’s point of view. And in an organization as distributed as ours where people come from all around the world, we view it as an essential ingredient to developing deep and meaningful collaboration.”

    How to Do HR in a Blended Company (Zoe Harte, Upwork) 

    “That means saying, ‘Okay, our entire organization will connect this many times a year in this many ways. There will be an all-department meeting once a month, once a quarter — whatever is appropriate — and that we will cover these three priorities and in broad progress and how it’s impacting the business overall.’ And then the expectation would be that the smaller subsets of teams are meeting in this way.”

    On Building Automattic (Me)

    “Our distributed roots did not come from some grand vision, but instead emerged from cold realities. Colocation (being in the same place, at the same time) is expensive!”

    Is Remote Work Bulls—t? (Arianna Simpson)

    “I think having people come and interrupt you every 25 seconds, as is often the case in open floor plans, is definitely not the most productive situation. So the model I’ve seen work well, or the model I lean towards, is having an office where people are working from, but having private offices or spaces where people can plug in their headphones and just do work alone while still being in the same place as, hopefully, all of their colleagues.”

    For Years, VR Promised to Replace the Office. Could It Really Happen Now? (John Vechey, Pluto VR)

    “The technology forces you to be present — in a way flatscreens do not — so that you gain authentic experiences, as authentic as in real life. People remember VR experiences not as a memory of something they saw but as something that happened to them.”

     
  • feedwordpress 15:59:00 on 2019/11/11 Permalink
    Tags: , , productivity,   

    Farnam Street’s Great Mental Models, Presented by Automattic 


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    I’ve been a fan of Shane Parrish and his indispensable Farnam Street for many years now. Shane is a fascinating person — he’s a former cybersecurity expert for the Canadian intelligence agency and occasional blogger who turned his website into a full-time career. Oh and fs.blog is on WordPress, too. 😎

    His book, The Great Mental Models: General Thinking Concepts, has been tremendously valuable to me in my work. So valuable, in fact, that Automattic is now sponsoring the next printing of the hardcover edition. You can pre-order it here, then learn more about the mental models outlined in it.

     
  • feedwordpress 06:38:04 on 2019/11/06 Permalink
    Tags: , state of the word, ,   

    State of the Word 2019 


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    In case you missed it, here’s the first-ever State of the Word… designed completely in Gutenberg:

    WordCamp US was a fantastic experience, as always. Thank you again to the hundreds of organizers and volunteers who made it happen, to the thousands who attended, and to the city of St. Louis for hosting us. We’ll be back there again next year.

    And special thanks to this next generation of WordPress contributors. So exciting to see KidsCamps continue to expand and thrive:

    As you can see, my site is now featuring the new WordPress Twenty Twenty theme. And for more coverage from my State of the Word, check out the recaps from WP Tavern and Post Status. Here’s my full audience Q&A below:

    You can see my previous State of the Word keynotes here.

     
  • feedwordpress 15:28:13 on 2019/10/16 Permalink
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    New Automattic CFO 


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    As Venturebeat has picked up, Mark Davies will be leaving Vivint and joining the merry band. Automattic is creating the operating system for the web, from websites to ecommerce to social networks. As we zoom past 1,100 employees in over 70 countries, we wanted a financial leader with experience taking businesses from hundreds of millions in revenue to billions (Vivint) and even tens of billions (Alcoa and Dell), as Mark has. I’m excited about working alongside such an experienced leader day-to-day to build what I hope will become one of the defining technology companies of the open web era.

     
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